Taking the ‘Fun’ out of ‘Funeral’

 

first-world-problems-iiWhile digging a shallow grave the other day, my accomplice said, “when I die, I don’t want anyone to cry or be sad. I want my funeral to be a party! They should get a keg, play loud music and have a great time!”

Not only is this sentiment clichéd, it’s also unrealistic. If people are that giddy at your funeral, you were probably a complete jerk who everyone is glad to be rid of. (And with my accomplice, we would be.) But, as King Solomon once plagiarized from The Byrds, “a time to laugh, a time to weep.”

It is perfectly natural to be sad at the departure of a loved one. You realize you won’t see that person again on this side of mortality and that’s an awful feeling. I have no need to short-circuit the grieving process for those I leave behind. So when I die, I want tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Friends and family should grieve bitterly as they realize that their world is but a hollow shell without my presence. If the death was particularly grisly, I demand an open casket, forcing them to shudder at my misfortune. I also want the funeral director to point my finger so it is aimed squarely at the mourners as they walk by. They will blame themselves for my death and regret all the negative things they ever said — or even thought — about me.

The mourners will write moving notes and poems to me, admitting that all of my arguments were right while they were so very, very wrong. Not that their posthumous apologies will satisfy their guilty consciences.

Being unable to return to happier days, their lives will descend into an aching shadowland of despair. They will try to numb the pain with drink, drugs and reckless behavior, but that will only lead them into more destructive cycles of self-deception, addiction and shame.

Of course, when I rise again in three days, I’ll just laugh and laugh and laugh. It’ll be awesome. Since they all love a good practical joke, I guess they’ll end up laughing at my funeral after all, albeit belatedly.

…On second thought, I doubt I’m up for the whole resurrection thing. Jesus won’t let it happen because a) Been there; done that b) I’ll have a lot of explaining to do.

Never mind. Instead, just give me a Viking funeral. Place me on a magnificent longboat with all my favorite stuff, set it on fire and push it into the crashing waves. And place a couple of those chrome mudflap ladies on the back for ironic effect. That would be sweet.

There are 36 comments.

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  1. Member

    And place a couple of those chrome mudflap ladies on the back for ironic effect. That would be sweet.

    Ironic, or iconic?

    BTW – I’m already wailing at the injustice of it all!!!

    sniff – Safe home, Undisputed King of Stuff™ -sniff

    • #1
    • June 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm
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  2. Podcaster

    The Most Ex ExJon will ever get.
    Jon

    • #2
    • June 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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  3. Inactive

    Just curious – why were you digging a shallow grave? Or it is just kind of a thing that you do?

    I want to be buried at midnight, or 1am. Preferably during a lightning storm.

    • #3
    • June 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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  4. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    KC Mulville: Just curious – why were you digging a shallow grave? Or it is just kind of a thing that you do?

     I’ve already said too much.

    • #4
    • June 18, 2014 at 12:27 pm
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  5. Member

    Reminds me of the time when some of my kids were young. I was sprawled out on the floor in their room trying to locate a particular book on the bottom shelf of the book case. They came into the room and saw me lying there and were a little concerned until they figured out what I was doing. I tried to make it a teachable moment and the conversation went something like this:
    Me: If you find me on the floor and you can’t wake me up what should you do?
    Kid 1: Tell big sister?
    Me: Ok, but if big sister isn’t at home?
    Kid 2: Tell big brother?
    Me: Ok, but what if he isn’t at home either?
    Kid 1: Try to call Dad?
    Me (wondering why they can’t remember about 9-1-1): Ok, but what if Dad’s not in his office? What should you do if you find me lying on the ground?
    Kid 2: Uh………bury you?????

    • #5
    • June 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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  6. Member

    Maybe at you funeral you should also do something Bill Cosby once suggested. Hide a recorder (with speakers) in your casket loaded with messages from the dear departed for friends and relations. Get a co-conspirator with a remote to play the message appropriate to each person as the various mourners go by. We are just about at the point where with a little computer hardware and some face-recognition software you could almost skip having someone do the selection.

    Seawriter

    • #6
    • June 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm
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  7. Member

    My only requirement for my funeral is that it be completed in not more than one hour.

    A funeral is an ESPN highlight show, not the four-volume biography.

    • #7
    • June 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm
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  8. Inactive

    I already know what will be on my tombstone.

    “I had the right of way.”

    • #8
    • June 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm
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  9. Inactive

    I no longer look in the caskets as I want to remember them when they were alive, if not positively healthy.

    I don’t care if people want to look at my remains as I’ll not be able to do anything about it anyway.

    Some will grieve and some won’t. For the grievers I hope that it is a short time.

    I do want a funeral Mass and I would prefer the priest be using the black vestments. Death is a real thing and certainly the end of everything here. Best to be recognize for what it is: a finale.

    • #9
    • June 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm
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  10. Member

    Seawriter:

    Maybe at you funeral you should also do something Bill Cosby once suggested. Hide a recorder (with speakers) in your casket loaded with messages from the dear departed for friends and relations. Get a co-conspirator with a remote to play the message appropriate to each person as the various mourners go by. We are just about at the point where with a little computer hardware and some face-recognition software you could almost skip having someone do the selection.

    Seawriter

    This is almost, but not quite, in the same vein. When my stepmother-in-law passed, my father-in-law put her Droid in her pocket. In the middle of the service, the preacher encouraged us to text our goodbyes to her as we saw fit. For the rest of the service, we kept hearing her text message noise, “Droid!” pop off from the phone. It was an amusing but heartfelt addition to the events of the day.

    • #10
    • June 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm
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  11. Inactive

    A funeral pyre high on a hill with all everyone getting inebriated dancing about is how I want to be sent into the after life . . . I was thinking about having my stuff and wife burnt with my body but since I am sans a wife at present and I am of the opinion it would not be a selling point in getting married to me, I decided to drop those things from the sendoff requirments. Viking ship idea isn’t bad either . . .

    • #11
    • June 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm
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  12. Member

    Is there something you need to tell us, Jon? Let’s just say it’s been a rough eight months or so, and if you have news, I’d prefer the rip off the band-aid approach. Thanks.

    • #12
    • June 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm
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  13. Member

    Or perhaps you would like to tell us what is filling your “coffee” cup these days, Jon?

    • #13
    • June 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm
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  14. Member

    There’s little reason that sadness and joy cannot coexist at the same event.

    Sadness at the loss of a loved one, and joy with the sharing of happy memories about that loved one.

    I agree that it is foolish to suppress sadness as part of the mourning process, but I see little reason not to also encourage joy through celebration.

    The devil, as always, would be in the details. If celebration is in service to the mourning process, then it could be positive, but if the mourning process merely becomes an excuse to party, that would be to profane death.

    • #14
    • June 18, 2014 at 3:24 pm
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  15. Member

    KC Mulville: Just curious – why were you digging a shallow grave?

    Shoddy work ethic?

    ;-)

    • #15
    • June 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm
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  16. Thatcher

    Joe Dugan: I’d give $100 for a beer right now.
    Waite Hoyt: So would the Babe.

    – Two of Babe Ruth’s former Yankee teammates, at Ruth’s sweltering funeral.

    • #16
    • June 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm
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  17. Member

    I want to buried in a personalized coffin. Everyone at the funeral gets a sharpie and writes a note, yearbook-style. Put stickers of my favorite teams, metal bands, movies, etc on my box.

    • #17
    • June 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm
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  18. Member

    Never say never; science may yet find a cure.

    • #18
    • June 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm
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  19. Inactive

    I went to a funeral a few years ago for an African America gentleman. One of those Baptist funerals. It really was a tremendous celebration of life. I think the highlight was when a friend of the deceased came to play piano, a little boogie woogie. The two had played together with the deceased playing harmonica. And the friend played at the funeral and stopped mid-song, gestured at the casket and called for his friend to play one last solo. (The preacher’s words at the end were good too. “I don’t write eulogies. You write your own eulogy in the way you live your life.”)

    You can do that for an 80 year old man who had started life as the son of a Mississippi sharecropper and had gone on to success.

    The last funeral I went to was a man who died of an unexpected heart condition at age 46, leaving behind a wife and 2 teenage daughters. Nothing fun about that. You not only mourn the person, but all the things he’s going to miss.

    • #19
    • June 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm
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  20. Coolidge

    The new widow was sitting next to her best friend at her husband’s funeral. Her friend jokingly reminded the widow that he had demanded that all his money be buried with him. He literally wanted to take it with him. She then asked if this had been carried out. “Yes,” the widow replied. “All the money’s in the casket.”

    Her friend gasped. “What are you going to do? How will you manage?”

    “Not to worry. I wrote a check and slipped it in his pocket.”

    • #20
    • June 18, 2014 at 9:24 pm
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  21. Inactive

    Funeral? I wouldn’t be caught dead at one.

    (And haven’t yet.)

    • #21
    • June 18, 2014 at 11:02 pm
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  22. Member

    I’ve already told my kids no ‘Celebration of Life’ for me. I want moaning and weeping. A couple of my kids are crybabies, so I don’t think it will be a problem. Also, in the best tradition of funeral talk (which I hate with a passion), it will be “what she would have wanted.” 
    When I was 13, my grandmother died. She lived in the house next door and I was very close to her. At the wake the small funeral home was jam packed and to my eyes and ears all that was missing was the cocktails in everyone’s hands. The little old ladies from the church had to shout the rosary in order to be heard above the din. A ‘cocktail’ party, with my beloved grandmother in her casket ignored, deeply offended my sense of propriety. I think this experience colored all my ideas of what a funeral should or should not be.

    • #22
    • June 19, 2014 at 8:00 am
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  23. Member

    My great uncle, who jumped into Normandy on D-Day died two years ago. There was a funeral mass celebrated by our family priest at our family church. As we left the church, bagpipes were playing. Not a dry eye to be seen. After the burial, we invaded a local pub and drank for hours. Had lots of fun remembering a great man.

    That is the right way to have a funeral.

    • #23
    • June 19, 2014 at 8:41 am
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  24. Member

    Perhaps it is my bias as a Catholic, but I don’t understand eulogies. I think the practice is a bit silly. Sing a person’s praises when they’re alive and around to hear and benefit from them, not when their dead. It strikes me as a coping mechanism for people who feel guilt about not having had a close enough relationship with the deceased when they were alive.

    • #24
    • June 19, 2014 at 8:49 am
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  25. Reagan
    iWe

    A friend of mine has already said my epitaph, and it fits:

    “Because I could.”

    • #25
    • June 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm
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  26. Reagan
    iWe

    Funerals are not for the dead. They don’t care. Funerals are for the living.

    I want my funeral to benefit my loved ones, by giving them a renewed sense of how precious life is, and how much there is to accomplish before we run out of time.

    • #26
    • June 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm
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  27. Member

    Bob Laing:

    Perhaps it is my bias as a Catholic, but I don’t understand eulogies.

    I recall a joke from Seinfeld, the set-up is that in a survey American’s #1 fear was public speaking, followed at #2 by fear of death. He concluded this meant that if they had to attend a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than have to give the eulogy. 

    • #27
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:29 pm
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  28. Member

    Glad to see everyone getting into the spirit of this conversation.

    • #28
    • June 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm
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  29. Member

    6foot2inhighheels:

    Glad to see everyone getting into the spirit of this conversation.

    Did someone say “spirit” on a funeral thread? That’s just asking for fun.

    • #29
    • June 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm
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  30. Inactive

    I’m tired of being left up on your shelf
    I might not wait around, I might kill myself
    Not only will you miss me, you’ll feel guilty too
    Hey, I’ll be dead but it’ll be too late, the joke’ll be on you!

    -Loudon Wainwright III

    • #30
    • June 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm
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